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Eleider Alvarez Knew When to Go to the ‘McIntosh’ to Shock Kovalev

Bernard Fernandez

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McIntosh

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. – Until late Saturday night, most people probably knew McIntosh as the Binghampton, N.Y.-based manufacturer of high-end audio equipment. After underdog Eleider Alvarez’s no-doubt-about-it, seventh-round knockout of WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev, however, it might also stand for the concussive sound of punches to the jaw, as loud and unmistakable as the riffs of the late, great Keith Moon, the wild ’n’ crazy drummer who helped make The Who one of the best rock bands ever to take the stage.

References to musicians, like Moon, who flashed across the night sky like comets and then vanished into the memories of  their fans seem especially appropriate given the venue for Kovalev-Alvarez, the first fight card held at the newly refurbished Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, the former Trump Taj Mahal which shone like a diamond after a $500 million transformation. Gone are the massive chandeliers and India-themed accoutrements that marked its previous incarnation; in are electric guitars and drum kits used by a phalanx of Grammy Award winners who topped the charts for however long they were able to keep their sound fresh and in demand, and their bodies capable of holding up to the demands of a relentless, wearying lifestyle.

After he was sent crashing to the canvas three times in that fateful seventh round, the possibility now appears to be very real that the 35-year-old Kovalev (32-3-1, 28 KOs) may have run out of the kind of smash hits he used to deliver instead of taking. The “Krusher” from Russia now has lost three of his five most recent bouts, including stoppages by Andre Ward and Alvarez, a career slump marked by an alarming tendency to lose energy and power into the middle rounds.

“I think Sergey tends to run out of gas after six rounds,” said Main Events CEO Kathy Duva, Kovalev’s promoter. “That seemed to be the magic round with Ward, too. He did great for six rounds and then faltered. I assume he got tired.”

Although Kovalev has a rematch clause that he and his support team could enforce sooner rather than later, Duva hinted that their guy might be better served to take some time off to consider his options. That could open the door for Colombia-born, Montreal-based Alvarez – finally a star, if only temporarily – to proceed to a unification showdown with another Russian, Dmitry Bivol (14-0, 11 KOs), who retained his WBA 175-pound title with a workmanlike unanimous decision over Isaac Chilemba (25-6-2, 10 KOs) in the first half of the HBO-televised doubleheader. Other holders of alphabet light heavyweight straps are the WBC’s Adonis Stevenson (29-1-1, 24 KOs) and still another Russian, the IBF’s Artur Beterbiev (12-0, 12 KOs).

For his part, Bivol expressed disappointment that countryman Kovalev, a 1-to-6 favorite in Atlantic City’s newly opened sports books, had lost, and not just for reasons of nationalistic pride.

“My team had negotiations regarding Kovalev being my next fight, to unify the championship,” Bivol noted. “Sergey was a great champion. It’s unfortunate that he lost the title, but I would want the same opportunity to have a unification in December as discussed. If it’s Alvarez, I would be happy to fight Alvarez.”

Alvarez also would be happy to fight someone, anyone, for a unified title, although he doesn’t expect it to be Stevenson, for whom he somehow was the mandatory challenger for three years without ever getting a shot at the brass ring. It’s no wonder he and his advisers fairly jumped at the chance to get it on with Kovalev, who, if what they say is to be believed, appeared to be increasingly vulnerable for the same reasons that had worried Duva.

“We saw a couple of things, not only in the Ward fights but in other Kovalev fights,” said Alvarez’s trainer, Marc Ramsay. “We knew at the beginning of the fight that Kovalev was going to be dangerous. But we were ready to let some rounds go because our game plan was to bring Kovalev into the second part of the fight and go a little more physically with him. It worked.”

Through the mid-point of the scheduled 12-rounder, the Alvarez plan – the key component of which was the strategic deployment of a combination Ramsay had dubbed “the McIntosh” – probably seemed successful only in the minds of fighter and trainer. Kovalev was up on all three official scorecards, 59-55 on those submitted by Joseph Pasquale and Lynne Carter and 58-56 on Carlos Ortiz Jr.’s, and he had a big round in the fourth, when he landed 25 of 60 non-jabs (power punches) according to CompuBox. But, as Ramsay had anticipated, even then Kovalev’s vaunted arsenal was being downgraded to small-arms fire.

“I knew it would be a tough fight, and it was a tough fight,” Alvarez said. “But the game plan was working exactly as we wanted it to. After the sixth round, Marc told me to fight Kovalev on the inside. He saw that Kovalev didn’t have the same power as in the beginning of the fight. I threw a certain combination we call `the McIntosh’ and that was the end of the fight.

According to Ramsay, the so-called McIntosh is not really a secret, previously unused weapon he had Alvarez pull out of his trick bag. “The `McIntosh’ comes from a fight where Eleider knocked (he didn’t specify the opponent) out a couple of years ago,” he said. “it’s a jab to the body and a right hand over the top.”

So why “McIntosh”? Why not “Apple” or “Microsoft”?

“If I say `McIntosh,’ the other guy has no idea what I’m talking about,” Ramsay explained.

In the corner prior to round seven, Ramsay told Alvarez to put the full Mac on a presumably wilting Kovalev, who had fired most of his remaining bullets in the fourth round that hadn’t resulted in the knockout he so clearly was seeking.

“I tried it a lot, but I told Marc I needed one more time,” Alvarez said of the combo that will be the talk of boxing until, well, it isn’t. “I wanted to knock him out (after the first knockdown, which clearly had deposited Kovalev into the danger zone) because he might be too tough afterward. I knew that he was hurt and I went for the kill.”

Referee David Fields would have been justified had he waved the fight off after Kovalev went down a second time, arising on legs as shaky as those of a newborn fawn, but he allowed the champion one more opportunity to fight his way out of deepening trouble. Alvarez did not let him off the hook, once more McIntoshing Kovalev into a horizontal plane as emphatically as possible. The end came after an elapsed time of 2 minutes, 45 seconds.

Should Kovalev have reached the end of his heady run as a top 10 pound-for-pound kind of fighter, the more compelling question might be whether Alvarez is ready to try on his vanquished foe’s shoes to see if they’re a comfortable fit. He wouldn’t be the first fighter of fairly recent vintage to become an overnight sensation; think Thailand’s Srisasket Sor Rungvisai, the junior bantamweight who burst into instant prominence as the result of back-to-back victories over Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez. For those who care to reach further back in history, remember that James Toney was a 20-1 underdog and was far behind on points when he dethroned IBF middleweight champion James Toney with the sort of late explosion that Alvarez laid on Kovalev. But for every fighter who legitimizes himself with the sort of exclamation-point victory that Alvarez is now enjoying, there are others who rose to the occasion and just as quickly slipped from prominence.

“It was a great performance by Eleider. Tonight a star was born,” said Yvon Michel, who promotes Alvarez. “I said beforehand that after this fight, you all will know who Eleider is.

“We always said the fight will be decided the way that Eleider laid the trap for the punches that would ensnare Kovalev.”

So salute “The McIntosh,” the fight game’s flavor of the moment. Salute, too, the 34-year-old Alvarez, who waited and waited for a chance to demonstrate to the world that he really is what he always has claimed to be, which is a fighter whose light too long has been hidden under a basket of anonymity.

Also deserving of plaudits are the Hard Rock, which sold all 5,600 of its seats in the Etess Arena in a glorious return not only to the venue, but to Atlantic City, which might soon be enjoying its own rebirth as a destination fight town after long years of neglect.

“We’re back,” a saddened Duva said, looking for positives in a night that didn’t have many for Team Kovalev. “The city’s back. From that aspect we had a wonderful night.”

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Pradabsri Upsets Menayothin, Ends the Longest Unbeaten Streak of Modern Times

Arne K. Lang

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During the wee hours in the Americas, a big upset was brewing in Thailand. In Nakhon Sawan, a city roughly 150 miles north of Bangkok, Panya Pradabsri (aka Petchmanee CP Freshmart) out-pointed Wanheng Menayothin (aka Chayaphon Moonsri) in a domestic clash with international significance. Manayothin entered the bout with a 54-0 (18) record and was making the 13th defense of his WBC world minimumweight title.

Pradabsri had been defeated only once in 35 previous starts, but only 11 of his 34 victories had come against fighters with winning records. According to ringside reports, he kept Menayothin at bay with good fundamentals, a stiff jab, and good lateral movement. All three judges had it 115-113. The fight wasn’t without controversy as Menayothin finished stronger and many folks scoring off the live video thought that he had done just enough to retain his title.

How good was/is Menayothin? That’s a question that serious boxing fans will likely debate for decades.

In the summer of 2019, Menayothin signed a co-promotional deal with Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions. At time, GBP president Eric Gomez described him as one of the best fighters in the world. “We really want to bring him to the U.S. so people can see how talented he really is,” Gomez told England’s Sky Sports.

Menayothin was expected to make his U.S. debut in April of this year, but the pandemic ruined that plan. Earlier this year, he announced his retirement, but rescinded it after only two days.

Scottish boxing historian Matt McGrain, who has an exclusive arrangement with this web site, had lukewarm opinion of the Thai mighty-mite although he rated him the second-best 105-pound boxer of the decade, trailing only his countryman Thammanoon Niyomtrong (aka Knockout CP Freshmart).

“He is disciplined, strong, brings good pressure and is armed with a very decent range of punches,” said McGrain, “(but his record) is comprised mostly of men any competent fighter would be expected to beat.”

Although only one boxer from Thailand has been inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame (Khaosai Galaxy, class of 1999), the Southeast Asia nation has produced some outstanding boxers over the years – Chartchoi Chionoi, Sot Chitalada, Pongsaklek Wonjongkam, and Srisaket Sor Rungvisai to name just a few. The difference between these fighters and Wanheng Menayothin is that they all left the comfort zone of their homeland to score one or more important wins on foreign soil.

Menayothin may yet display his wares in a U.S. ring. But at age 35, an advanced age for small fighters in particular, we won’t get to see him at his best and now that his bubble has been burst, disinviting further comparisons to Mayweather and Marciano, the curiosity factor has been tempered.

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Yoka vs. Hammer Kicks Off the Thanksgiving Weekend Slate on ESPN+

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PRESS RELEASE— Tony Yoka, the dynamic heavyweight punching Parisian, aims to impress in his ESPN platform debut. Yoka, who won a super heavyweight gold medal for France at the 2016 Rio Olympics, will fight veteran Christian Hammer in a 10-rounder Friday at H Arena in Nantes, France.

Yoka-Hammer will stream live and exclusively this Friday, Nov. 27 in the United States on ESPN+ beginning at 2:55 p.m. ET/11:55 a.m. PT.

The ESPN+ stream will also include the return of unbeaten 2016 French Olympic gold medalist Estelle Yoka-Mossely against Pasa Malagic in an eight-round lightweight bout. Yoka and Yoka-Mossely, who have been married since 2018, welcomed their second child in May.

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Earlier this year, Yoka inked a promotional agreement with Top Rank, which will co-promote him with Ringstar France.

“Tony Yoka’s potential is limitless, and he is a grounded young man who is motivated to be a great professional fighter,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “France has never had a world heavyweight champion, and I believe Tony is the one to bring the sport’s biggest honor home.”

The 28-year-old Yoka’s stellar amateur run included a berth at the 2012 London Olympics and gold medals at the 2015 World Championships and 2010 Youth Olympic Games. Before his triumph in Rio, he’d already defeated the likes of former heavyweight world champion Joseph Parker and current undefeated prospects Joe Joyce and Ivan Dychko. At the Rio Olympics, he defeated Croatian standout Filip Hrgović in the semifinals and edged Joyce in the gold medal match.

As a professional, Yoka (8-0, 7 KOs) made his debut in June 2017 with a second-round stoppage over the previously undefeated Travis Clark. Apart from a decision win over Jonathan Rice in his second outing, Yoka has stopped every foe, including durable Englishman David “White Rhino” Allen and former European champion Alexander Dimitrenko. He made his 2020 debut Sept. 25 and stopped former world title challenger Johann Duhaupas in one round.

Hammer (25-6, 15 KOs) has fought many of the leading heavyweight names during his 12-year career, falling short against Tyson Fury, Luis Ortiz and Alexander Povetkin. He’s notched myriad upset victories, including a highlight-reel knockout over David Price and a 2016 split decision over Erkan Teper for the WBO European belt. In March 2019, he went the 10-round distance against Ortiz and has not been stopped since Fury forced him to retire on his stool after eight rounds in their February 2015 clash.

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Avila Perspective, Chap. 115: Macho, Freddie and More

David A. Avila

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Camacho me and Mia

“Macho.”

That single word is how Hector Camacho presented himself when introduced. It was the only word needed for the three-division world champion from Puerto Rico who was raised in Harlem, New York.

The first time I met Camacho was in a dark and packed Las Vegas nightclub in the MGM where he was a guest of Oscar De La Hoya back in March 2001. Though it was difficult to see, when Camacho was introduced, I could see the large gold medallion with the word “Macho” in letters six inches high.

Showtime network will be presenting a documentary called “Macho: The Hector Camacho Story” on Friday, December 4 at 9 p.m. on Showtime. It sparks memories of how a fighter in the lower weight classes grabbed the attention of the boxing world.

Camacho was more than flash or words, he was an electrifying boxer who stood out in the 1980s, an era dominated by the “Four Kings” Marvin Hagler, Tommy Hearns, Roberto Duran and Sugar Ray Leonard. Oh, and also a guy named Mike Tyson.

The fast-talking Camacho was a phenomenal fighter who swept aside opponents with his blinding speed and shocking power. It was against Los Angeles-based fighters like Refugio Rojas and Louie Loy that I first read about his exploits. Both were knocked out.

A third Southern California fighter John “Huero” Montes was thought to be the one to give Camacho a real challenge. The fight was televised to a national audience in February 1983. At the time I was watching it on a tiny black and white television and at 1:13 into the first round Camacho unleashed one of those lethal uppercuts and Montes was out-for-the-count.

Camacho arrived that day.

From that point on few could withstand the speedy southpaw’s blinding charges. Six months later he stopped Mexico’s “Bazooka” Limon to win the vacant super featherweight title.

One fighter who heard the final bell was Freddie Roach who could take a punch and knew a thing or two about fighting southpaws.

“I liked fighting southpaws,” said Roach via telephone. “My dad taught me early to keep my foot on the outside and lead with right hands.”

Roach had never lost to a southpaw. The winner that day between Camacho and Roach in Sacramento, on December 1985, was supposedly going to fight Puerto Rico’s heavy-handed Edwin Rosario.

Using his surefire method of fighting southpaws, Roach managed a knockdown of Camacho with the help of his foot. But it was not enough.

“He was very difficult. Lot of people raved about how fast his speed was. You didn’t really realize until you got into the ring with him,” said Roach. “I wasn’t the slowest, but wasn’t the fastest. I just couldn’t keep up.”

Despite using roughhouse tactics against the lefty speedster, Roach said that Camacho invited him to dinner after the fight.

That pretty much explains Camacho, a talented and big-hearted guy.

Last Stages

The last time I ran into Camacho was at the Pechanga Resort and Casino when he and Mia St. John were about to fight on the same boxing card in 2009. He was much heavier but still able to defeat middleweights.

How good was Camacho?

He defeated two of the Four Kings when he beat Roberto Duran twice and stopped Sugar Ray Leonard by knockout when they fought in 1997. Yes, Leonard was 41 and had not fought in six years, but this was Sugar Ray Leonard.

“I didn’t think he would ever beat Leonard,” said Roach.

Neither did Leonard.

“I just felt that I was a bigger man. I was smarter, stronger, all those things, but the first time he threw a punch, it was like, Pow! And I said, ‘Wow, that hurt,’” said Leonard about their encounter. “I tried the best I could to just go the distance. When he was at his best, he was a thing of beauty.”

What I remember after Camacho beat Leonard was how sincerely apologetic he was after the victory. He could talk the talk and walk the walk but inside he remained the kid from Harlem who was given extraordinary talent. And he was humbled by it.

Roach remembers their dinner together after their fight.

“That night he took me out to dinner with his friends and said you fought a good fight,” said Roach adding that Camacho was a very likeable guy. “I saw him along the way in his career.”

Roach, who would later train another astoundingly fast southpaw named Manny Pacquiao, said he never fought anyone again as talented as Camacho.

“You hear rumors of drug problems and training problems. But when he fought me, he was in for 10 and I tried every trick in the book but it didn’t work. He was in a higher class than I was,” Roach said. “He was one of the best fighters in the world.”

Don’t miss this Showtime documentary next week.

Jacobs and Rosado

Speaking of Roach, the famous trainer will be working the corner of Gabe Rosado (25-12-1, 14 KOs) when he meets Daniel Jacobs (36-3, 30 KOs) on Friday, Nov. 27, at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Florida. DAZN will stream the Matchroom Boxing card.

It’s Philly versus Brooklyn.

Rosado has long proven to be a real professional who keeps adding elements to his fight game. Paired with Roach he has further developed under the guidance of the Southern California-based trainer. Plus, Rosado can plain fight.

Jacobs, a former world champion, has proven to be an elite middleweight and looks just as comfortable as a super middleweight.

Expect the kind of prize fight they used to show in the Golden Age of boxing in the 1950s when you had guys like Johnny Saxton fighting Denny Moyer. It should be that kind of battle of wits and skill. I’m looking forward to it.

Photo: Hector Camacho, David Avila, and Mia St. John. Photo credit: Al Applerose

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